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Climate fix could deplete polar ozone

Effect would be especially large after extremely cold winters

Scientists seeking to cool Earth’s climate by injecting millions of tons of sulfuric acid droplets high in the atmosphere might trim rising temperatures but could also destroy much of the ozone in polar regions, a new study suggests.

Major volcanic eruptions spew large amounts of tiny particles, or aerosols, high into the atmosphere, where they scatter light back to space and significantly cool Earth for months to years (SN: 2/18/06, p. 110). Some researchers have proposed lofting tons of aerosols into the stratosphere to achieve the same result, but that process — often dubbed geoengineering — could have a number of detrimental side effects. Last year, for example, scientists noted that average precipitation worldwide dropped significantly in the 16 months immediately following the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo (SN: 8/25/07, p. 125).

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